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Unlike fad diets, fasting is not expensive, inconvenient, time consuming, complex or difficult.
Intermittent fasting is accessible to everyone, all the time.
Diets are difficult.
NPR’s Health Poll in 2011[*] showed that:
Dieting involves counting and reducing calories and changing your eating patterns, meal planning, grocery shopping and preparation of every meal.
An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 70.7% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese. Clearly something’s not working[*][*].
But intermittent fasting is not a diet.
With IF, you don’t strategically reduce your caloric intake. Calorie reduction happens naturally through the smaller window of time during which you eat. It’s helpful to make the effort to still eat enough calories.
Eating a whole-foods diet is beneficial for everyone, but you don’t necessarily have to change what you eat either. This makes IF a good way to lose weight and body fat without shocking your body (or lifestyle) with sudden change
It’s simply a way to eat that promotes fat loss without compromising lean tissue. For the same reason, bodybuilders love IF because they can get leaner without losing muscle mass.
Besides helping you sleep better, move more and reducing how much you eat, there are a host of other benefits of intermittent fasting that you won’t want to pass up.
Health researchers advocate intermittent fasting for its many benefits, described below.
Better Wind and Endurance
IF and Bodybuilding
Here they all are, with the science that proves them.
Fat Loss: Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting helps your body become better adapted to oxidizing fat for energy.
Because of the decreased window of time for eating, insulin levels are lower, allowing adipocytes (fat cells) to release fatty acids.
The lower levels of glucose and glycogen encourage the body to use these fatty acids to generate energy for the body and brain rather than store the fatty acids in fat cells.
You use up fat instead of storing it and soon burn what you’ve already stored.
Adherence is another important factor for IF as a tool for weight loss.
Studies confirm that people regain their previous weight or more, several years after a diet[*].
Why? They fail to adhere to their diets. That’s not surprising, since most diets make long term adherence nearly impossible.
Intermittent fasting is comparably effortless to sustain, reducing calorie intake, inducing ketosis, lipolysis, autophagy and other positive bodily responses that work together toward weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting for Disease Prevention
Recent studies emerge to support the use of intermittent fasting as a means of lowering blood glucose in diabetics and leading to overall improved health outcomes[*].
In particular, one study published in the World Journal of Diabetes found that subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus implementing short-term daily IF significantly reduced body weight, fasting glucose and improved post meal glucose variability[*].
IF has been shown to:
- Improve markers of stress resistance
- Lower inflammation and blood pressure
- Improve glucose circulation and lipid levels, leading to a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) and cancer[*][*][*].
Intermittent Fasting for Anti-Aging
Aging is Western society’s public enemy #1, so how would you feel if you stumbled across the secret key to anti-aging?
Well you just did.
The anti-aging capabilities of IF are coming to light as more studies show that it has a profound ability to decrease blood pressure, reduce oxidative damage, improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, and decrease fat mass – all factors that contribute to enhancing health and longevity[*].
Fasting is one of the biological stressors that triggers autophagy – a process where your body clears out dead or underperforming cells and regenerates and recycles damaged proteins[*].
Autophagy is extremely important and a natural process that plays a significant role in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, autoimmune diseases, liver disease and much more.
Many of the benefits of fasting are due to this essential, physiological processes.
Intermittent Fasting for Therapeutic Benefits
Beyond its application for diabetes management, IF is also proven to be as effective as approved drugs for reducing seizures and seizure-related brain damage[*][*] and for healing rheumatoid arthritis[*].
Additionally, research is beginning to emerge showing positive effects of alternate day fasting on reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy and decreasing morbidity rates associated with cancer[*].
Fasting is a common spiritual cleansing practice that remains an integral part of nearly all religions around the world. It’s interesting to think that all of these religions are independent and unique yet they all share the use of fasting to heal and promote wellness
Some might argue that fasting is usually a practice of penance. That’s true, yes, but penance is a means to an end. The end is forgiveness and peace, self-love and well-being.
This observation in itself should represent the power of fasting!
Fasting helps improve willpower through regularly exercising the self-control muscle. When you fast, you are consciously choosing not to eat and therefore taking control of your mind and training it just like you would train your muscles during an intense gym session.
As a result of this training, you learn how to control your own eating and you develop the power to control other aspects of your life as well.
One recent study found that women who practiced intermittent fasting had positive experiences associated with increased sense of achievement, pride, reward and control.
Willpower influences your sense of accomplishment and self-esteem through being able to exhibit self-control[*].
Self-control, as evidenced by many studies– the most famous was the Marshmallow Test– is one of the greatest predictors of happiness, success and quality of life.
Breaking your fast also brings an incredible sense of gratitude for food, life and nourishing of your body.
Intermittent Fasting for Superior Mental Performance
Intermittent fasting improves cognitive function[*] and helps boost brain power.
As mentioned earlier, IF induces neuronal autophagy which allows your brain cells to recycle and repair themselves for optimal function[*].
Studies have shown that interference of neuronal autophagy can lead to neurodegeneration causing your brain to function insufficiently and prevent you from performing at your full potential[*].
Intermittent fasting also increases a protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
This protein interacts with the parts of your brain that control learning, memory and cognitive function. Studies have shown that BDNF helps protect your brain cells and even stimulates the growth of new ones[*]
IF also triggers ketogenesis, where your body turns to fat for energy, metabolizing fat into ketones. Ketones easily cross the blood-brain-barrier, feeding your brain and resulting in better mental acuity, energy and productivity.
Combined with a well formulated whole-foods diet, IF avoids the blood sugar spikes caused by a high carb diet, which leads to brain fog and low mood issues like depression.
Intermittent Fasting for Better Physical Fitness
Yup, intermittent fasting also holds benefits for your physical fitness, too. Including…
Intermittent fasting trains your mind and digestive system to get used to eating what you need for the day in a smaller window of time.
This promotes a healthy and proportional intake of food and calories. People who get used to fasting and also eat a ketogenic diet soon learn to only eat when hungry, not according to pre-established mealtimes or impulsive and mindless eating.
Popular belief that fasting negatively affects your metabolism is unfounded.
When done the right way, fasting actually helps improve metabolism and promote metabolic flexibility where your body has the machinery to use glucose or fats effectively for energy.
Better Wind and Endurance
Football players and other athletes build and maintain their “wind” by running and doing other cardio training exercises.
Known in fitness as VO2 max, this is the maximum amount of oxygen per minute, per kilogram of body weight that you use during intense exercise.
The more oxygen you can use at a time, the more work output you can perform. Your VO2 max level is a measure of fitness; elite endurance athletes have twice the VO2 capacity of untrained people.
In one study[*], scientists tested the VO2 max levels of a fasted group (no breakfast) and a fed group (one hour after a cereal breakfast).
Both groups had starting VO2 levels of around 3.5 liters per minute (L/min), which is close to standards for regular, untrained individuals. The study participants underwent endurance cycle ergometer training and had the following change in VO2 max:
The fasted group increased their VO2max significantly more than those who were fed breakfast.
Intermittent Fasting and Bodybuilding
Many people find they feel better and train better on IF.
One of the best and often-mentioned benefits is less hunger. Even though you delay eating, you eat one or two bigger meals compared to eating 2000-2500 calories spread out in 5 to 6 meals during the day. Body builders find they’re more satisfied with those bigger meals.
But you do need to take care of your protein intake if you’re a keen bodybuilder.
Muscle protein synthesis and max muscle growth
Consuming more protein at one time of day won’t make up for low protein intake at other times of the day when you need it[*]. There’s a maximum anabolic cap at 20g[*]. You don’t “make up for it” by eating 40g of protein in one meal. It doesn’t work like that.
Modify your fast to include an evenly distributed protein intake throughout the day during your training days and implement supplements when needed, such as Perfect Keto Perform or Perfect Keto Collagen.
Sipping on BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) protects you from muscle damage[*], speeds up recovery, decreases protein breakdown and helps prevent feeling depleted when you’re training in a fasted state[*].
Why the emphasis?
Taking BCAAs means taking proteins, and that means you’re not fasting. But it’s different during training because BCAAs act as a powerful energy source for your muscles instead. The benefit outweighs breaking your fast.
Taking creatine supplements (3-5 grams per day) increases lean body mass and muscle fiber size, power output and strength. Taking creatine after your training is found to be better for strength and muscle gains than eating anything pre-workout[*].
Beta-alanine increases endurance by increasing carnosine levels in the body, which work as a buffer between your cells and the hydrogen ions associated with fatigue[*].
Note: Your fasting method should coincide with the physical demands of your training. The many types of IF are designed to help individuals, bodybuilders and athletes in maintaining health and boosting performance when they need it.
Recommended Reading for Benefits of Fasting